Four California Natives Among Fallen US Marines
We’ve learned much more about the victims of the terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan last week. Among the 13 brave US service members who were killed while helping people evacuate the country were four California natives: Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, and Sgt. Nicole L. Gee.
Nikoui, 20, was a Norco High School graduate. He joined the ROTC program there as a teen. Community members led by the Norco American Legion gathered Sunday for a hike, pancake breakfast, and a procession in his honor.
Lopez, 22, was from Indio, California. Flags at Indio City Hall were flown at half staff after his death and a memorial was set up to honor him.
Lopez was the son of two Riverside County sheriff’s deputies and served as a Riverside Sheriff’s Explorer Scout in Palm Desert from 2014 to 2017.
“Unbelievably saddened and heartbroken for the Lopez family as they grieve over the loss of their American Hero,” Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco said on his Facebook page.
Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola of Rancho Cucamonga was 20 years old. The city has announced a memorial on Sept. 2 at 7:00 p.m. at Central Park’s Freedom Courtyard. It will be held in conjunction with the family and Los Osos High School, Merola’s alma mater.
Gee was a resident of Sacramento. She was 23 years old. Days before her death, she posted a photo of herself holding a baby in Afghanistan with the caption, "I love my job." A vigil for Gee was held Tuesday night in Roseville.
Read more about our fallen heroes and see a full list here.